One of the best perks of being in this line of work has been the truly amazing people that I have had the good fortune of meeting, learning from and working with.
My travels have taken me to some places that I would have never gotten to know had it not have been for the djembe and group drumming cultures. In this piece, I would like to acknowledge and extend a heartfelt thank-you to all those friends and colleagues of mine who come to India and spread their energy through workshops and events that were hosted by Taal Inc…
Tara, the charming and talented djembe player, teacher and facilitator from Australia has been to India on many an occasion, starting in 2011. We’ve had the honor of working together each time. She even set the ball rolling for the Tam Tam Mandingue Djembe Academy appraisements in India by conducting some beginner exams successfully. This was for the first wave of Taal Inc djembe students. She is currently based in Tasmania where she leads djembe classes, drum circles, team building events and also a unique online learning resource for the djembe aptly called ‘Learn Djembe Online’.
Quinn, lovingly known as the ‘gentle giant’, hails from Salt Lake City, Utah, USA and is a djembe player / teacher par excellence. He was travelling through India in 2012 and in this time I made sure that he would lead some djembe classes for the gradually growing students of the school of rhythm. He taught me a lot of my material for the TTMDA certificate exam and about djembe making. Quinn, truly a man of many talents, currently leads djembe classes, makes some amazing artifacts through his carpentry skills and enjoys fostering snakes(!).
The Vice-President of TTMDA made it to India for some TTM workshops on second attempt. Due some ‘Visa on Arrival’ issues in 2015, he had to actually return to Singapore and was denied entry on Indian soil. However, second time around in 2016, he made it much better prepared with his paperwork and we had successful workshops in Pune, Mumbai and Delhi. Each of these djembe workshops helped us in spreading awareness of traditional djembe playing in India and encourage the sprouting djembe communities in these cities. Kelvin is currently based in Singapore and travels the world teaching djembe (most extensively, China) and facilitating group drumming experiences for all kinds of groups.
Leah, the power house from Michigan, is a choir trainer, musician, djembe player / teacher and she came to India to study drum circle facilitation with us at Taal Inc.’s ‘Find Your Inner Rhythm’ intensive course in 2015. She had also studied afro dance with various teachers in the USA. We used this opportunity to have her lead some beginner west-African dance classes in Pune. Leah is currently a djembe teacher with TTMDA. She also works with students and corporates using rhythm.
Karla Daniella Davila Rodriguez:
Karla, a.k.a ‘Kero’ travelled to India in 2016. She is a psychology professor and west-African dance teacher with ‘DrumArt’ in monterrey, Mexico. We traveled to Pune and Mumbai introducing traditional afro dance (accompanied with live west-African djembe drumming) to various audiences and it’s safe to say that we were the first ones to do so in India. Her sweet and energetic presence truly left many a dancer hungry to learn more with the hope to continue this art-form in India, in their respective circles and communities. Kero currently is a professor of Psychology in Monterrey, runs her own counselling private practice and teaches dance with Drum Art in Mexico.
In 2016, we had many guests come to India to share their spirit. One of the them was Dr. Jane Bentley. We hit it off instantly when we first met in Malaysia for the 3rd Asian Rhythm Facilitators Conference. This drum circle facilitator, music educator, musician and therapist has done extensive work in the area of arts and health using rhythm as a medium. She has done her PhD in drumming and it’s therapeutic effects. Through Taal Inc., she led ‘Find Your Inner Rhythm’ workshops in Pune, Mumbai and Bangalore. Her workshops helped inspire many musicians, social workers, facilitators, school teachers and therapists to learn and take up a career in using rhythm with groups. She is currently based in Scotland but travels the world doing workshops. She represents Village Music Circles as one of their certified trainers / facilitators and is a part of the Drum Circle Facilitators Guild. We are lucky and privileged to be associated with the good Dr. Jane Bentley.
Babara is someone who needs no introduction to the international djembe family. He is someone who has dedicated his life to the djembe. He started playing at a very young age and was noticed and guided by various teachers, Mamady Keita being one of the foremost teachers. He travels the world teaching djembe and performing with his band. His energy, spirit and intention are all aligned to giving his students / audience the best at all times. It was an exhilarating and inspiring experience to host workshops led by him in Pune in 2018. The djembe community in India salutes you. He is currently based in Brussels, Belgium but travels across the globe fulfilling his mission of ‘djembe for all.’
I speak on behalf of team Taal Inc. to express our gratitude and love for all these teachers and facilitators for visiting us and sharing a part of themselves with us and those we’ve worked with. We look forward to seeing them again and hosting many more such inspiring individuals to help us further out aim which is to open out hearts and let art into our lives; to help us be a better version of our own selves through the drum, through art…
Come. Drum. Be One.